Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

McGregor: Upholding Admission of Firearm Evidence in Identity Theft Trial

In United States v. McGregor, No. 19-10163 (June 3, 2020) (Marcus, Wilson, Thapar), the Court affirmed the defendant’s identity theft convictions.

On appeal, the defendant argued that the district court abused its discretion by admitting evidence of the defendant’s possession of a firearm.  Rejecting that argument, the Court emphasized that the firearm was highly relevant because that firearm was found in the same closet with PII, thus indicating that the defendant (as opposed to his co-defendant) possessed the PII.  (The Court declined to opine on the alternative relevance theory that guns were “tools of the trade” in fraud cases).  And the government limited the prejudicial impact of the firearm by not telling the jury that the firearm possession was unlawful or that the defendant had prior convictions.  The Court found that possession of a firearm today is not so inherently prejudicial as to necessarily outweigh its probative value.